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We’re observing more instances, online and on TV, of over-the-counter hearing aids. Getting help for hearing loss is supposed to be easier with these instruments. They also might make this kind of device more affordable. Unfortunately, using over-the-counter hearing aids has caused a lot of concern from both medical experts and the government. Some states are even issuing warnings because they have received complaints from individuals who have used them. Here are just a few concerns.

Don’t Overlook a Hearing Exam

One main problem with over-the-counter hearing aids is that you neglect important steps in the process, such as having a hearing evaluation and hearing examination. Without these steps, it’s impossible to know which plan is right for you. You may also miss signs that your hearing loss is connected to other health concerns. Hearing tests also inform you of how to set up the device for best results.

Not All Hearing Loss is Equal

Generally speaking, people have a tendency to think of hearing loss as a kind of decreasing of the volume meter on your ears. When you do that on your stereo (or your phone, as the kids do), the effect is immediate: everything gets quiet.

But actual hearing loss is more like playing around with the eq levels on a high-end stereo (or your music app on your computer). That’s because hearing loss is generally asymmetrical, influencing this frequency or that wavelength before others. If your hearing aid, over-the-counter or otherwise, is not accurately calibrated for your particular hearing loss, you could wind up damaging your overall hearing.

The most sophisticated OTC hearing aids do a pretty good job of indicating on their packaging which frequencies they are amplifying. If you have an audiogram recently you can try to do it by yourself. Even then, you’re likely better off asking us to help program it. Sometimes, OTC hearing aids won’t be able to be customized to the needs of somebody that has a more complex type of hearing loss.

How to be Smart With Your Hearing Aid Decisions

At this point in history, people have the widest array of hearing aid choices ever. But because there are so many options, it also makes choosing the right one that much more difficult. This is known as analysis paralysis, you likely experience it most intensely when you’re attempting to find something to watch on Netflix.

Here are a couple of ways you can make some practical choices with your hearing aids:

Make sure you aren’t getting a hearing amplifier. One problem that people have run into is recognizing the difference between an OTC hearing aid and a hearing amplifier. A hearing amplifier will turn up the volume on all frequencies of sound, not just distinct frequencies like a hearing aid can. And that can be bad for your ears in the long run. After all, you probably don’t need all frequencies to be louder, just the ones that you can’t hear right now. Making sounds universally loud will weaken the sounds you’re already capable of hearing.

Talk to us. It’s really important to have an evaluation with us either way you decide to go. We can figure out how complex your hearing impairment is with a basic hearing test. It may or may not be a smart strategy to go with an OTC hearing aid. You will be in a more informed position to choose which solution fits your needs when you get an audiogram.

Over-the-counter hearing aids are often not the ideal choice. But with a little professional assistance and education, most of these difficulties can be conquered. It’s important to take the time to get some assistance first because hearing is an essential part of your overall health.

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